The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has paid $20,000 ingeneral damages to an Isle Madame woman who filed a complaint ofsex discrimination. In a decision dated Tuesday, Nov. 16, Chief Justice JosephKennedy decided the Human Rights Commission did not, however,have to pay the legal expenses of the other parties involved withthe complaint. The chief justice instead suggested that theorganizations have further discussions about what costs, if any,should be paid. The complaint involved a woman who alleged that ClearwaterLimited Partnership and the Canadian Automobile Workers Union haddiscriminated against her when she was an employee at theClearwater Plant in Arichat. The union and Clearwater had planned to ask the court to quash aHuman Rights Commission investigation of the case. They continuedwith legal action after the woman’s complaint was settled,petitioning the court for legal costs incurred by the lengthyprocess involved in handling the complaint. In his written decision, Chief Justice Kennedy said he did notfind evidence that would justify “the dramatic imposition” oflegal costs. He said that all of the parties “share in the creation of thecircumstances that led to this unfortunate situation.” The case has a long history and was affected by a settlementreached in earlier complaints arising from the same workplace. In 1994, Clearwater, the union and the Human Rights Commissionhad entered into a settlement agreement with five othercomplainants. As a result of that settlement and otherinformation, the commission understood that it could not accept acomplaint from the woman when she approached the commission laterthat year. She eventually filed a complaint with the Ombudsman’sOffice. In 2002, the assistant ombudsman recommended in a report to thecommission that the complaint be reactivated or a new oneaccepted. The report was critical of the portion of the earliersettlement that prohibited the commission from accepting futurecomplaints alleging sex discrimination against Clearwater and theunion. Upon reviewing that report, the commission accepted the complaintfor processing. Clearwater and the union then took legal actionagainst the commission. Concerned with the unexpected costs ofthose legal actions, the commission entered into a settlementwith the woman. “This was a unique set of circumstances and we needed to act,”said commission CEO Mayann Francis. Ms. Francis said once a costbenefit analysis was completed, the commission was confident thata settlement with the woman was the most prudent decision and useof resources. In his decision this week Chief Justice Kennedy said he did notfind that the commission acted improperly in accepting the newcomplaint. The court decision is available on the commission website athttp://gov.ns.ca/humanrights/decisions/default.htm .
President Mahinda Rajapaksa today announced the appointment of a special commission to investigate the Matale mass grave.President’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga said that the commission will be led by former Justice S.I. Imam, Retired High Court Judge Bandula Atapattu and former Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Kitulgoda. The international police INTERPOL had in May been asked to assist in the investigations into the Matale mass grave. The Magistrate Magistrate had said in May that INTERPOL assistance had been sought and once that is obtained then DNA tests will be carried out on the skeletal remains found at the grave site.The Magistrate also ordered that public notices be issued in all three languages to ensure than anyone who has more information or wants to give evidence in the case comes forward. The UNP, which was in power during the 1987-89 period, said it will back an independent investigation into the mass grave. The UN had also been called to assist in the investigations into the mass grave. Over 150 skeletal remains and human bones have been unearthed from the mass grave in Matale. Forensics had determined that the remains were of those killed sometime in the late 1980′s and the area has now been marked as a crime scene.At least 10 skeletal remains were first found from the site near the Matale hospital in November last year by construction workers when land near the hospital was being dug-up to construct a new building. Following police investigations excavation work began to look for skeletal remains at the site and more remains were found.The JVP had demanded that the government carry out investigations on the mass grave following fears the remains maybe that of JVP members or supporters killed during a 1987-89 insurgency. In a written statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, ahead of the 22nd session last March, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a nongovernmental organization, had said that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances should, through their experts, study the situation and the conduct of inquiries relating to the remains of the 200 or more persons found in Matale and assist the Sri Lankan government to ensure that these inquiries meet international standards. (Colombo Gazette) Weeratunga told media heads at a breakfast meeting that the commission has been asked to investigate all angles into the mass grave.